January 3rd, 2010
02:00 PM ET
5 years ago

DeMint: Obama 'distracted' from protecting the country

Sen. DeMint said Sunday that the president has been 'completely distracted by other things.'
Sen. DeMint said Sunday that the president has been 'completely distracted by other things.'

Washington (CNN) – A leading Republican critic of the administration's homeland security efforts suggested Sunday that President Obama is making mistakes similar to those the Bush administration made in fighting al Qaeda.

“He has been completely distracted by other things,” Sen. Jim DeMint OF South Carolina said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Fellow Republican Thomas Kean, who chaired the 9/11 Commission, also cited distractions in his earlier interview on State of the Union.

“We had an administration which was not focused, as it should be, on terrorism and that’s understandable,” Kean said. “They were focused on health care and global warming and the economy. That’s very understandable.”

DeMint told CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger that Obama “is not focused on building the security and intelligence apparatus of our country.”

“The last administration – President Bush – made a huge mistake,” DeMint said, “by sending the Yemenis back” – a reference to freed prisoners from the Guantanamo detainee facility who returned to terrorist activity, including two Yemenis suspected of planning attacks against the U.S. and British embassies in Sanaa after their release. “The core leadership of al Qaeda now is made of those folks who were at the Gitmo prison. We can’t make that mistake again. So, it’s not just about this administration. It’s about losing our focus on security and I’m afraid politics and political correctness has become front and center in this debate.”

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri , a longtime Obama backer, took issue with DeMint’s remark.

“That’s just not true,” she said. “This president is focused like a laser on how to keep this country safe.”

McCaskill noted that Obama went against the wishes of some in his own party by ordering a troop surge in Afghanistan. “This is a president that is taking strong action and is building up our intelligence community – not diminishing it.”

soundoff (245 Responses)
  1. Blue

    DeMint is not for the country but for the republican party. Where was he when Bush/Cheny were destroying our country? He should be deported because he is not a good American.

    January 3, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Ron

    I think De Mint is confusing Obama with South Carolina Governor Sanford as the one who is really distracted.

    January 3, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. WANDA

    How much more foolish nonsense is gonna come from the Republicans and also from the state of SC? What a statement to make when the american people expect leadership from the people we elected to office Democrat or Republican. Then to try and tear down the President when we all want answers and solutions to the problem we are in. If you have nothing good to say then keep your mouth shut!

    January 3, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. disaster

    “That’s just not true,” she said. “This president is focused like a laser on how to keep this country safe.”

    McCaskill noted that Obama went against the wishes of some in his own party by ordering a troop surge in Afghanistan. “This is a president that is taking strong action and is building up our intelligence community – not diminishing it.”

    And her DEFENSE for that statement is that Obama went AGAINST her party's wishes. McCaskill clearly admitted the Dems are trying to destroy our intelligence community and our military!

    January 3, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. guest

    Maybe if the d#$n republicans weren't so busy trying to obfuscate, block everything, and blowing bs the distractions might be reduced. Demint you are a gold plated, self-serving, re-election mongering idiot.

    January 3, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. Michael

    It took Bush 6 days to respond to the Richard Reed shoe bomber, It took Obama 2 days with a good plan. The Bush people tried him in a Federal court and convicted him and he's in a Federal lock up in Colorado, but for Obama that's not good enough or OK. Seems like the "right" has a short memory on things when it comes to this man. Even Tom Ridge, head of Homeland Security under Bush has problems with the way this is being handled...but it's the exact same way that he did it with Bush...and that was OK??? These people are just out to de-legitimatize Obama in any way they can...even if it calls for outright lying which is what they are doing. The country is safer today 'cause this administration cares about this country...not just the rich in this country.

    January 3, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    Everyone's a critic.

    January 3, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Flagship, NC

    That is the stupidest CANNED speech I heard yet this year.
    DeMint sounds so dumb by spewing the same old crap that has no real foundation.
    What does he think, that the U.S. Security team and Military advisors are made up of Obama's family members?
    I am so sick of his shallow canned crap being spewed out every time he takes the microphone or talks to a reporter. He is really showing his hate mixed with his low IQ.
    South Carolina is always coming up with these freaks that represent them.

    January 3, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. RogerD

    I can see how the intelligence community is confused on where the information needs to go... there seems to be another terrorist (man caused disaster) person in charge everyday. We have Directors in all types of government agencies; Homeland Security. CIA. Justice Dept, State Dept. and a Terror Czar, not to mention the President and all his other little croanies. Who is really in charge? or should they all be fired.

    January 3, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Brandon

    Republican propaganda.

    January 3, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Sara

    DeMint is a loser! This is a man who said at the beginning of the discussion of healthcare reform , that he wanted Health care to fail, because the failure would be Obama's Waterloo!
    De MInt is a Republican clown, and a liar, who has voted against defense funding, who voted against increased inspections of containers entering our ports, and Demint is also the loser who is holding up the nomination of the head of the TSA over petty, political garbage.
    It is hack politicians like DeMint, who do nothing but run their mouth, who are a disgrace to our Congress.

    I would also remind DeMint that it is President Obama who is going after AlQueda terrorists in Paksitan. It is President obama who is going after AlQueda terrorists in Yemen.
    And it is President Obama who just added 30,000 more US soldiers to Afghanistan.
    So anyone claiming that President Obama is not focused on terrorist is BLIND, or they are just plain liars
    Demint and the rest of Republicans are liars, and political hacks, and a disgrace to our Congress!!!

    Please do not censor this – as you always do at CNN - print the truth .. and this is the truth!

    January 3, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. Steve

    Jim Demint will say anything that he think would destory President Obama.

    January 3, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Stike 1

    Demint is a bologna mouth who is another southerner who cant stand to have Obama in charge of my United States. He and the rest of his K street buddies are part of the lunatic fringe Dumbocans who are better at chasing damsels other than their spouses and am sure reading the bible to them while waving their Confederate flag and not accepting the South lost the Civil War. You know the war that was a start to make ALL men equal.

    January 3, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. Michael

    I guess Bush was distracted by reading too many books and taking way too many vacations....We have no control on what other countries do on their screening since they won't use full body scans...and how about the Republican that is blocking the TSA nominee....

    January 3, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    These Republicans have got to go, there is nothing they do or say that's constructive. It's politics as usual with them and they will use any unwarranted reasons to attack our President and now cite the mistakes Bush made but never complained or spoke out because they were cowards then and cowards now.

    January 3, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Michael Bundle

    Well, to really put his in perspective, these are the procedures that the Republicans put in place, with eight yeas that they not only made this country unsafe, but have no idea what the hell to do, so what do they do best, blame someone else for their failed stupidity, Sen. DeMint should resign in disgrace and hang is coat on the same hook as Cheney for stupidity.

    January 3, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. WangFu

    This is such BS. If all our president should do, is to guard our country, how would we live our normal lives? We can't subsist on a war economy as the previous administration attempted. We have other priorities as well.

    The fact is, we cannot stop 100% of the attacks. Someone, somewhere, will get through. That does not mean that we should not strive for 100%. But when one such attempt does get through, it is shameful to see it politicized and whipped up to spread fear. Let's learn from it and become better.

    Republicans seem to have a few cards at their disposal: FEAR, FEAR of our security, FEAR of people who may be different, FEAR of change, and FEAR of FEAR itself.

    Republicans = Party > Country

    January 3, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. jim

    and what would we expect a typical republican to say?

    you know the type ... someone who is only playing partisan politics. someone who has no interest in anyone except their own political status. someone who typically uses fear and smear and gross exaggeration to sway public opinion.

    yes, what would we expect such a person to say?

    January 3, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. nathan

    Claire, where have you been lately? Our Pres is focused like a laser to keep us safe?; Com on , everyone knew at once that the Nigerian was with Al Qaeda. An article says "Obama ties Nigerian to Al Qaeda"
    He can't even say terriost much less blame them. I guess he figured it out after his getaway. This guy is a joke and is playing the flute to all that will follow.
    Still need to see his real birth certificate. So. please think for yourself .

    January 3, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. Mike in Texas

    I have a question for DeMint.

    How many people in South Carolina have been killed by terrorists compared to how many that have died by being killed by a drunk driver, murdered, heart disease, cancer, lack of health care, etc?

    Terrorism is not the biggest problem Americans are facing DeMint.

    Quit trying to gain political points.

    South Carolina should be ashamed of you!!.

    January 3, 2010 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. NB

    I love how the GOP wants to make us feel like we are less safe now. 9/11 happened on their watch and they had 7 more years to make us safer, which they obviously did not. They are the ones that implemented this joke of a homeland security and were distracted by starting a war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Maybe if they had seriously gone after these terrorists in the first place instead of making themselves even richer than they already are. I guess the public easily forgets all of this because the GOP are the best at distracting our attention away from things! They only have an opinion when someone else tries to do something they could have done in the first place. They offer no solutions. They are only against it because it is not their guy doing it! Like health reform...we don't care about it until the other side wants to do something about it. Reminds me of a little kid. The kid only wants to play with the toy the other one has, but when they have it they no longer want to play with it...they now want the toy other kid now has...This is just proof of another mess left for Obama to fix!

    January 3, 2010 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. GP

    Distracted? Like perhaps he spent fourth months of his first year in office on vacation like his predecessor?

    Haven't the republicans provided close to 100 percent of his distractions? Isn't that the beauty of the win/win strategy? Obstruct, derail and spoil anything and everything the dems and Obama attempt? And then turn around and tell the voters Obama is distracted and the dems can not get anything done?

    How Machiavellian of the repubs. Rather brilliant, in an evil sort of way.

    January 3, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. TruthHurts

    I disagree with this GOPer. Obama is not distracted, he knows exactly what he is doing. He does not feel that we are war. I am surprised that he has not apologized to the "terrorist".

    This country is WEAK and the whole world knows it!!

    January 3, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    This President should have had only 4 priorities: the economy, two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the related war on terror. Instead he's been all over the map 'multitasking' as his supporters call it with health care, GITMO, the Olympics, fund raising, campaigning for losing Democrats, and just about everything else.

    January 3, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  25. Gregory H. Brooklyn, New York

    The sad state of America' politics is that, if one were to listen to the Republicans - they would have you believe that the fight is against our President - than we standing as one nation Against al Qeada. We're in this together. Terrorism is real and is here, dividing us is only helping one group, the Terrorist....Sen. DeMint stop playing politics, lives are at stake. May God continue to bless America.....

    January 3, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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